A BENEFIT cheat grandad has been fined just £165 for falsely claiming nearly £5,000 in incapacity pay over five years despite working over that time.
Stephen McQueen carried out work for painting and shipyard firms while receiving incapacity benefits after earlier being forced to leave work due to ill- health.
He accepts he continued to receive benefits while working sporadically, sometimes for a week or two or a month at a time. He accepts he should have disclosed this to the DWP and was extremely stupid not to do so.Kate Lewis
The 52-year-old pleaded guilty at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday to failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about a change in his circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefit.
The court heard that McQueen, of Bluebell Way, South Shields, was overpaid £4,958 in benefits between April 4, 2007, and March 20, 2012.
Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “He made the claim on the grounds that he was unfit for work, but he had been in employment for painting and shipyard companies on an ad-hoc basis during this time while still claiming incapacity benefits.”
Kate Lewis, defending, said: “He had to give up work due to ill-health. He suffers from severe asthma, which has led to chest infections.
“He is a man of previous good character, and he has five children and three grandchildren.
“He accepts he continued to receive benefits while working sporadically, sometimes for a week or two or a month at a time.
“He accepts he should have disclosed this to the DWP and was extremely stupid not to do so.
“He has claimed incapacity benefit for 15 years and still does so.
“The claim was not fraudulent from the outset.”
The court heard that McQueen is paying back the money he owes to the DWP.
McQueen was fined £165, but no order for costs was made due to his lack of means.